Preparing wood for painting and maintaining transparency

Reader Question: I'm interested in using acrylic on wood without priming with white gesso. I would like the wood grain to be visible and part of the painting itself.

What product would you recommend that would seal and protect the wood before applying the acrylic, but that would remain transparent?

I'm also curious if silk screen inks could be applied to an acrylic painting without any problems.

If you'd like to seal and protect the wood with something transparent so that the wood grain is still visible before you paint on it, you should seal it with either clear gesso or a matte medium:

I've provided links below to the relevant products so that you can easily find them on Blick Art Materials, my favorite online art supplier. I'm a member of Blick's affiliate program, which means if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links, I'll receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). Your purchase helps support this site and keeps it free of ads. Click here for more info.

Clear Gesso

Clear gesso is just like regular gesso, except that it dries clear!

Matte Medium

Matte medium is another excellent option that can be used as a clear ground, while also protecting the surface of the wood.

Golden Matte Medium

For the second part of your question about whether screen-printing inks can be safely applied to acrylic paintings:

If you make a purchase via the links below I receive a small commission, which helps support this site.

Yes! You can safely add screen-printing ink to an acrylic painting, either by brushing it on or by doing a screen print over top of your acrylic painting. I've done both.


Screen-printing inks work best when they are used for their intended purpose (screen-printing) but I was able to use my leftover screen-printing ink by brushing it onto a canvas. It took a few coats to get smooth and even coverage, and the screen-printing ink was thick and goopy compared to acrylic paint, but it was an easy way to use up what I had left. You can also create some cool effects by screen-printing some designs or images over an acrylic painting.

Hope that helps & Happy-Artmaking!

Check out my Guide to Buying Art Supplies